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White House Promoting Worldwide Atheism (Part 2)

'A Pattern of Obfuscation and Denial'


[Part II of a two-part series on State Department funding of Humanism overseas.]


When Communist-Democrats in the Biden White House have been questioned on their promotion of atheism across the globe – the godless crowd, unsurprisingly, resorts to lies and deceptions.


As examined in Part I of this series, congressional Republicans are accusing the Biden State Department of funneling $500,000 in taxpayer money to a program designed to advance atheism overseas.


After issuing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the project in April 2021, the half-million-dollar grant was awarded to Humanists International, an organization dedicated to promoting atheism globally, for its proposal targeting the Hindu-majority South Asian nation of Nepal.


Upon learning of the State Department's secularist push, in 2022 GOP lawmakers began pressing the agency for answers regarding the rationale behind the program; if fomenting secularism in the developing world is, from a foreign policy perspective, strategically sound; and whether promoting humanism is unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause.


Again, Demanding Answers


Dissatisfied with the State Department's response — or lack thereof — to GOP concerns, in 2023, concerned US House members reinvigorated their inquiry into the agency's use of taxpayer money to market atheism overseas.


On Feb. 1, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter of inquiry to Erin Barclay, Acting Assistant Secretary of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor — the office responsible for awarding Humanists International the $500,000 grant.


In his letter, the congressman asked State Department officials once again to provide basic information about the program. Expressing disgust over the matter, McCaul questioned the proposition underlying the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) — that "spending half a million dollars to expand atheist networks ... is somehow in America's strategic interest."


"I acknowledge that religious freedom includes the right for individuals to choose not to believe, and I do not take lightly the plight that some non-believers face in coercive environments," Rep. McCaul stated. "Still, the Department's approach in this NOFO breaks new ground and signals to the world that the US government seeks to 'modernize' other societies by promoting a specific secular agenda."


As other GOP lawmakers had done in earlier communiques to the State Department, Representative McCaul voiced concerns over the privilege the grant seemed to afford atheists, as well as the constitutionality of the award:

"Although the NOFO cursorily states that program activities and products must be 'implemented in accordance with the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution,' there appears to be no mechanism in place that would ensure constitutional compliance after the money has been distributed.
Additionally, the text of the NOFO is clear that the objective of the Department-funded program is to promote the religious freedom of one particular group — comprised of atheists, humanists, and non-affiliated individuals — rather than of all religious minorities. I therefore have significant concern that the recipients of this funding opportunity are using US taxpayer dollars to unlawfully promote certain belief systems over others, thus violating the Establishment Clause."

In a statement to National Review afterward, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) praised McCaul for reviving the inquiry "after months of stonewalling from the Biden administration."


Banks — whose earlier outreach to State Department officials had been rebuffed multiple times — said McCaul's effort demonstrated that "The House Republican majority will not tolerate the unconstitutional and harmful funding of atheism abroad."


"Americans believe in free exercise of religion," he affirmed, "not state-supported atheism, and taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for this anti-American program."


In response, a State Department spokesperson told National Review, "We have received the letter and will respond accordingly."


More Questions Than Answers


In a June 8 letter to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Naz Durakoglu, Assistant Secretary for the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs, insisted that the offices of the agency "do not provide funds to any organization with the aim of using such funds to promote or advance specific religious ideologies or beliefs."


Critics, however, remained unsatisfied. "After nearly six months of silence," one group said, "the Department purported to explain the implementation of the NOFO but, in so doing, raised new questions."


In a follow-up dispatch on June 20, the State Department "finally produced a batch of documents, including a series of slides used in training, related to the programs that were funded under the NOFO." But again, critics were unsatisfied with these half-measures, as they "failed to answer many of the Committee's previous questions and ... brought to light additional concerns regarding the Department's grant review process."


On Aug. 3, a trio of House Republicans responded to the State Department's lackluster disclosures. Joined by Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability, and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, Rep. McCaul pressed agency officials once more for answers, questioning "why it is in America's interest to promote Atheism overseas, and why the Department refuses to produce certain documents that shed light on that misguided decision."


"In its June 8 letter," the congressmen wrote, "the Department states that [its offices] 'do not provide funds to any organization with the aim of using such funds to promote or advance specific religious ideologies or beliefs.' This statement, however, directly contradicts the language of the NOFO itself, which makes clear that the intent of the funded programs was to expand Atheists' presence and influence in the relevant countries."


Continuing, the trio took specific aim at the recipient of the grant itself, noting that "even a cursory look into the operations and mantra of Humanists International (HI) calls the Department's claim into question."


"On its website," they wrote. "HI requires all of its 'member organizations' to pay dues and 'support' the five objectives of HI, the first of which is 'The Advancement of Humanism.' Thus, the implementing partner itself is publicly negating the Department's claim of neutrality, by illustrating that ... subgrantees have sectarian objectives."


The congressmen also dismissed the claim — common among humanism's contemporary adherents — that the humanist belief system cannot be considered religious, owing to its atheism:

"For over half a century, the courts have considered Humanism a 'religion' protected under the Establishment Clause, and therefore held that Humanism may not be specifically promoted using aid money from the government."

Humanists International's grant application expressed its "intent to violate that prohibition," the representatives observed.


In its program proposal, "HI states it will award sub-grants for 'Organizing events and seminars to promote the positive aspects of humanism and other ethical non-religious worldviews ...' including Atheism," they noted. "Thus, in the explicit words of the implementing partner, the goal of the Department-funded program is promotion of the tenets of a single belief system."


The congressmen also reminded State Department officials of how Humanists International actively seeks to erode liberties for Americans of faith:

"In addition to promoting Humanism and Atheism overseas, HI also works closely with member organizations that engage in American litigation to promote Humanism domestically, often to the detriment of other religious creeds. These organizations include American Humanist Association (AHA), which shares a Washington, DC address with HI, and American Atheists. Far from advancing religious freedom, AHA often takes actions which are antithetical to the idea of religious freedom. HI's close association with AHA speaks volumes about the true objectives of HI, and should be of grave concern to the Department."

The trio concluded their letter with a series of questions about the agency's process of awarding grants, as well as the implementation and evaluation of proposed programs. Especially noteworthy was the congressmen's request for information regarding the documents and slides that the State Department had released in June:

"What specific caselaw was the basis for the Establishment Clause training slides provided by the Department in its June 20, 2023, letter? Are these the slides which Department employees relied upon in determining there were no Establishment Clause concerns with HI's program? Did the Department previously base its training slides on the test articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman? If so, have they modified their training in light of the Court's recent abandonment of that test?"

They also requested that officials turn over "all training materials from the training sessions organized in Kathmandu, Nepal."


But the agency continued to dig in its heels, insisting that the Humanists International grant did not promote atheism. On March 21, Richard Verma, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, testifying that the grant is "exactly the right kind of program" that the State Department should promote.


"I have looked at the grant. I have looked at the materials. [Promoting atheism] is not what the grant is for, and that is not what the work would be for. We would never authorize such a grant to any organization," Verma said. "I have seen no evidence of any grant to promote atheism in Nepal … I have looked at the materials this grantee has used. It was about supporting civil society."


But in the months since Verma's testimony, shocking revelations have cast new doubt on officials' claims of impartiality.


Bombshell


Determined to obtain more precise answers to their questions, the House Foreign Affairs Committee contacted Humanists International to set up a transcribed interview about its programming.


Humanists International responded by securing legal counsel; afterward, its attorneys contacted the State Department, alerting the agency that HI had provided it the wrong slides used to train its Nepali activists. State Department officials, in turn, furnished these incorrect slides to Rep. McCaul and his investigative team in their attempt to prove the HI program was not promoting atheism in Nepal.


On April 29, Durakoglu sent a letter to McCaul, notifying him that investigators had been sent the wrong slides.


"This new information directly contradicts Humanists International's previous representation to the Department that the slides it had earlier provided were the ones used at the training," Durakoglu wrote, adding that the agency "is deeply concerned about this development."


State Department officials pledged to take "immediate action" to ensure HI programming is compliant with federal regulations.


Speaking to RealClearPolitics, a senior department official offered the following:


"The idea behind the request for proposal was not to make a program for atheists or for members of a particular group," he said. "It was to make sure that when we think about promoting religious freedom for everyone, we're doing things that are inclusive [of] ... members of those communities who often get left out because they don't have an obvious spokesperson."


"I will stand proudly behind ... [that], but as soon as there's the potential whiff of fraud or misrepresentation, that's a very different matter entirely," he added. "We take that very seriously and want to ensure that, as stewards of taxpayer dollars, that not one penny of taxpayer money is being misappropriated or misused."


On May 22, Reps. McCaul, Mast and Smith responded to the bombshell revelation with a letter to the State Department, accusing the agency, essentially, of engaging in a systematic cover-up.


"We write to address what the Department has now acknowledged were its misrepresentations made to Congress about the scope and nature of programming that — for the first time in US diplomatic history — has sought to promote atheism overseas under the guise of 'religious freedom,'" they began.


Retracing the history of the grant controversy, the congressmen slammed the agency's "lack of candor" regarding "its new atheism innovation."


From the start, when informing lawmakers that funds would "be used to support international religious freedom programs globally" and "encourage broader societal tolerance toward religious minority populations," they wrote, "State Department officials made "no mention" of targeting non-religious minority populations, much less of promoting atheism or humanism."


"Thus, from the earliest juncture, the Department may not have been truthful about its plans," they noted, adding:

"A pattern of obfuscation and denial by the Department followed, as it sought, vis-à-vis its grantee, to expand atheist networks abroad in violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution .... Indeed, following 15 months of our calling attention to this issue, it was not until April 29, 2024 that the Department finally expressed 'deep concern' with the programing [sic], and stated that it will 'pursue appropriate accountability measures.'"

Regarding the initial Notice of Funding Opportunity, Reps. McCaul, Mast and Smith expressed incredulity that "no one at the Department found [it] problematic, despite its explicit aim," noting that a primary "Expected Program Outcome" was to increase "capacity among members of atheist and heterodox individuals to form or join networks or organizations."

"As you know, our initial outreach regarding the NOFO was ignored. When forced to say something, the Department rejected the most plausible interpretation — in other words, that the relevant program was intended to do exactly what the NOFO plainly stated: grow the presence and increase the influence of atheists abroad. Instead, the Department argued that the relevant grant merely concerned 'routine' 'capacity building.'"

"This was not the case, as you ... now claim to have been misled into believing .... It is hard to believe Department officials refused to read the words right in front of them, but we are not sure what else may have happened," the congressmen wrote.


Reviewing repeated claims by agency officials that the "program does not promote atheism, humanism or any non-belief," the trio rejected State Department claims of ideological neutrality in the Humanists International case.


"As it turns out, none of these representations — by the Department in correspondence, by the Department in transcribed interviews, and by the Department in congressional testimony — were correct," they observed. "Rather, it was not until committee staff contacted the grantee to schedule a transcribed interview — and the grantee retained legal counsel — that the true scope of this programming was revealed."


"Legal counsel for the grantee uncovered in a matter of weeks what the Department obfuscated, misrepresented, and denied for years," they noted, adding:

"Following this Committee's inquiries, the Department has now observed that 'the training slides ... produced to the Committee by the Department were not the actual slides provided at the trainings.' And the contents of the slides provided at the trainings, presently in the Committee's possession, are damning.
To be sure, despite all of the evasions by the Department, it is now plain that the grant promoted atheism and expanded atheist networks abroad, while neglecting Christian and Muslim minorities who, unlike atheists and humanists, face real persecution in the relevant parts of South Asia. Indeed, the programming was designed to recruit new members of the grantee organization in violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution."

"You may understand if we are skeptical of the Department's purported desire to take "immediate action" ... as you have stated it will do," Reps. McCaul, Mast and Smith said in their conclusion. "The Department can reasonably expect congressional oversight of grant funding to continue, since the need for it is all the more pressing in light of the recent revelations."


Par for the Course


It should come as no surprise that Biden's State Department has directed hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to Humanists International — a group whose CEO, Gary McLelland, is on record declaring "It's obviously my job ... to combat ... Vatican policies and to push against them."


The administration of "Catholic" Joe Biden is the most anti-Catholic in American history. Each year, Biden's State Department flies the "Pride" flag at the US Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. In 2023, Biden's FBI targeted "traditionalist Catholics" with spying operations, characterizing them as potential terrorists. On Easter Sunday 2024, Biden's White House issued a proclamation marking a "Day of Transgender Visibility." Weeks later, Biden's National Park Service banned a Catholic Memorial Day Mass at a cemetery in Virginia, reversing course only after the Knights of Columbus filed suit against the agency.


And on and on and on.


The Biden administration is the antithesis of what the Catholic Church, and Christianity in general, stands for; little wonder, then, that his minions inside the State Department are trying to impose literal godlessness on the developing world.


Writer, editor and producer Stephen Wynne has spent the past seven years covering, from a Catholic perspective, the latest developments in the Church, the nation and the world. Prior to his work in journalism, he spent eight years co-authoring “Repairing the Breach,” a book examining the war of worldviews between Christianity and Darwinism. A Show-Me State native, he holds a BA in Creative Writing from Pepperdine University and an Executive MBA from the Bloch School of Business at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.


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The last paragraph summed it up nicely. I'll offer an ever shorter summation: Sneaky, evil SOB's.

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